Section 1201 Exemptions to Prohibition Against Circumvention of Technological Measures Protecting Copyrighted Works
(Closes Feb 6, 2015)
The United States Copyright Office is conducting the sixth triennial rulemaking proceeding under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 1201, which provides that the Librarian of Congress, upon the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, may exempt certain classes of works from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. The ultimate goal of the proceeding is to determine whether there are particular classes of works as to which users are, or are likely to be, adversely affected in their ability to make noninfringing uses due to the prohibition on circumvention of access controls. When such classes are identified, the Librarian publishes a rule exempting the classes from the prohibition against circumvention for the succeeding three-year period.
On September 17, 2014, the Office published a Notice of Inquiry requesting petitions for proposed exemptions and received forty-four petitions in response. The Office received the proposals and created twenty-seven proposed classes of exemptions for further consideration.
On December 12, 2014, the Office issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) initiating three rounds of public comment on the proposed classes including submission of documentary and multimedia evidence. Persons wishing to address proposed exemptions should carefully review the Notice of Inquiry to familiarize themselves with the substantive legal and evidentiary standards for the granting of an exemption under section 1201(a)(1).
Comment Submission Guidelines
Commenters are required to provide separate submissions for each proposed class during each stage of the public comment period. Although a single comment may not encompass more than one proposed class, the same party may submit comments on multiple classes.
The Office is accepting comments in two ways. First, commenters who wish to provide a full legal and evidentiary basis for their position may submit comments in a long form format. Such comments should be limited to no more than 25 pages in length (which may be single-spaced but should be in at least 12-point type), not including any documentary evidence. To assist participants, the Office has provided a recommended long comment form.
Second, for those commenters who wish to briefly express general support for or opposition to a proposed exemption, the Office is providing a recommended short comment form. Short comments should be limited to no more than one page (which may be single-spaced but should be in at least 12-point type).
Comments and associated documentary evidence (but not multimedia evidence) should be uploaded as a single combined file via the comment submission page. Commenters submitting long form comments may also separately submit multimedia evidence. Multimedia evidence must be submitted separately via U.S. mail or hand delivered to the Office, on specified digital media, in an approved file format and labeled as described in the NPRM.
Commenters should carefully review the NPRM for more detailed information concerning the recommended format and content of submissions, including documentary and multimedia evidence.
Due Dates for Public Comments and Associated Evidence
The first round of public comment closes on February 6, 2015, and is limited to submissions from the proponents (i.e., those parties who proposed exemptions during the petition phase) and other members of the public who support the adoption of a proposed exemption, as well as any members of the public who neither support nor oppose an exemption but seek only to share pertinent information about a specific proposal. Any associated documentary and/or multimedia evidence must also be submitted by this date.
The second round of public comment closes on March 27, 2015, and will be limited to members of the public who oppose an exemption. Opponents should present the full legal and evidentiary basis for their opposition. Any associated documentary and/or multimedia evidence must also be submitted by this date.
The third round of public comment closes on May 1, 2015, and will be limited to proponents and supporters of particular proposals, and those who neither support nor oppose a proposal, in either case who seek to reply to points made in the earlier rounds of comments. Reply comments should not raise new matters, but instead be limited to addressing arguments and evidence presented by others. Any associated documentary and/or multimedia evidence must also be submitted by this date.
The records of the previous Section 1201 rulemakings are available for reference. The first rulemaking concluded in 2000. The second concluded in 2003, the third in 2006, the fourth in 2010, and the fifth in 2012.